Toast to that?-An update on alcohol guidelines

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Did you know that our alcohol guidelines are currently under review? Yes, that’s right. But don’t get excited if you enjoy a regular tipple. You’re likely to be surprised to hear that the draft of the new guidelines takes a more conservative view than the current report published by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2001.

Analysis of the latest scientific literature and extensive consultation has resulted in the following proposed new guidelines:

Guideline 1

For low risk of both immediate and long-term harm from drinking:

Men and women

1.1 Two standard drinks or less in any one day.

Guideline 2 For children and young people under 18 years of age

2.1 Parents and carers are advised that not drinking is the safest option for children and adolescents under 15 years of age.

2.2 Not drinking is the safest option for adolescents aged 15-17 years.

If drinking does occur, it should be under parental supervision and within the adult guideline for low-risk drinking (two standard drinks or less in any one day).

Guideline 3 For women who are pregnant, are planning a pregnancy or are breastfeeding

3.1 Not drinking is the safest option.

What else is different about the new draft guidelines?

In the previous guidelines, two levels of drinking above guideline levels were designated as ‘risky’ and ‘high risk’, respectively. These terms are not used in this draft because risk increases progressively with the amount of alcohol consumed. For this reason, the draft guidelines take the new approach of recommending a level of alcohol consumption to ensure low risk of harm. Any drinking above the guideline levels therefore carries a higher risk than not drinking, as shown by both the risk of injury and disease compared to not drinking, and the lifetime risks of specific patterns and levels of drinking.

Any health benefits need to be balanced against the risks of other chronic diseases at low levels of drinking alcohol. The guidelines do not encourage people who do not already drink alcohol to take up drinking just to get some health benefits.

So it’s a good time to keep a check on your current drinking patterns and stay tuned for the final guidelines soon after the public consultation phase. For further information:

Based on these new guidelines, is your alcohol intake under control? Tell us below…

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